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'Biodegradable Puppies' Exhibit Targets Lancaster



PHILADELPHIA, Pa. -- Lancaster County is sometimes called the puppy mill capitol of the East Coast. Some farmers and others breed dogs in what some consider inhumane conditions.

Now some artists are taking aim at the practice.

News 8's Susan Shapiro recently visited an exhibit on display at the F.U.E.L. collection in Philadelphia.

In the heart of downtown Philadelphia, there is an art exhibit protesting what some see as an ugly part of rural Lancaster County. The Puppies are Biodegradable exhibit focuses on dog breeding operations known as puppy mills.

"The millers are profiting. Government is profiting. And everyone's allowed to do what they want to do at the expense of the animals suffering," said exhibit organizer Harrise Yaron.

The kennels that breed dogs in what some consider inhumane conditions have long been exposed in undercover video. But exposing puppy mills in art is a new approach.

"Its really is just about awareness. We're just trying to do it through a different medium," said gallery director Jennifer Yaron.

There are more than 75 works of art at the F.U.E.L. gallery.

Some of the artists, such as Tammy Grimes, are longtime animal rights activists. Others had never heard of puppy mills.

Artist Danielle Rizzolo created a digital image of Joyce Stoltzfus, a breeder from Lancaster County who has been cited a number of times for cruelty to animals. The image is on the floor of the exhibit and is made with paw prints of dogs from Stoltzfus' kennel.

"Its designed so that when people come in, they're going to walk on Joyce's face," Rizzolo said. Click here for a look at Rizzolo's piece.

On the second floor, there are photographs of puppy mill dogs. They are meant to be viewed from behind a chicken wire as though through the eyes of a caged animal.

The Mead family, from Scottsdale, Ariz., wandered into the exhibit after 11-year-old Hannah spotted the sign outside.

"I think it was a surprise to her, especially what the exhibit was about. So we're explaining to her what happens with puppy mills and that kind of stuff. So, it's interesting," said her father, Mitch Mead. "We had no idea that Lancaster was a puppy mill area."

Yaron is hoping gallery patrons like the Meads spread the word to others about puppy mills.

If you would like to visit the display, the F.U.E.L. collection is located at 249 Arch St. in Philadelphia.


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